Walk off the Earth attracts crowds of all ages – from senior citizens reminded of their favorite folk rock bands of the 70s, to a toddler who inherited the band’s ukulele by the end of their set.
As they jogged onstage following the Philadelphia leg of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series” one thing was pretty clear: only a handful of the runners had ever heard of them.
Walk off the Earth is an indie band from Canada, a group that has utilized unorthodox techniques to attract an eclectic and loyal following. During Sunday’s performance at Eakin’s Oval in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum, the group used as many as eight different instruments, including a ukulele, a xylophone, and a banjo, on one song, and as little as one.
They began the day with the title track off of their third studio album, “R.E.V.O.”, an acronym for Realize Every Victory Outright, the band’s motto. The rebellious and catchy tune piqued the crowd’s interest, but a lot more was still to come.
The band known for its covers showed off one of its earliest, with an energetic version of “Magic” by B.O.B. Next up was a slew of fun original songs, “Gang of Rhythm,” “Love Sponge,” “Speeches,” and “Shake.” They followed “Shake” with their claim to fame. A cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” using a single acoustic guitar. Played simultaneously by all five band members. The music video for the cover was posted on YouTube in early 2012 and has since garnered over 153 million views.
This is just the most well-known example of some of Walk off the Earth’s unique musical techniques. From the live performance of “Somebody That I Used to Know,” WotE moved on to more originals like “Sometimes,” which reminds of a more mellow 21 Pilots, and “Money Tree,” a more straightforward alternative jam, before arriving at an intense, untitled drum duo.
Band members Gianni Luminati and Joel Cassady stood on opposite sides of the stage, both with a single drum and two drumsticks. The intense instrumental provoked murmurs throughout the crowd, with many unsure what they were seeing.
People screamed, jaws dropped and by the end people were literally out of breath. Although to be fair, they had just run a marathon. With this beautifully harmonizing drum spectacle, Luminati and Cassady put Olympic synchronized swimming teams to shame.
By the time the band got around to playing their most successful song off of the new album, “Red Hands,” which peaked at number nine on Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100, the crowd was sold. “Red Hands”, the music video of which has become yet another example of the band’s mastery of all things YouTube, is an intense, meaningful song, although the actual meaning is a little ambiguous.
“‘Red Hands’ is pretty open to interpretation and will mean different things to different people,” Luminati said, “When we originally wrote the song, we were thinking about taking responsibility for your actions and standing up on your own when things go wrong rather than blaming other people around you.”
The video, which features fast and slow motion, quick fast forwards and multiple confetti cannons, was shot in a single take by director Ellis Bahl. The band’s videos showcase the real creative talents at work in every aspect of the live show.
Walk off the Earth finished the set with two more songs: a cover of “Man Down” by Rihanna followed by the audience participation-heavy “Summer Vibe.” With their final song, the indie band from just outside Toronto was able to further rev up an emotionally, and physically, exhausted crowd.
Walk off the Earth continues to make waves on both the Canadian and American Billboard charts, while simultaneously entertaining fans both old and young.
Kevin Rowley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.